On Veterans Day 2018, I decided to take a break from politics by taking my kids to the movies. Since the whole REDBROWARD family loves superhero movies my kids wanted to see Venom. With the election and school, we had not seen the Sony blockbuster featuring a character from the Spider-Man universe.

From the crowd at the 1pm screening it looked like a lot of families decided on a couple of hours of mindless fun as well.

As men my age who enjoy a beverage at the movies are prone to do, I took a bathroom break before the movie ended.

Once outside the theater I checked my phone for messages. My friend Dennis shared the bad news–Stan Lee died.

“No” was my only response.

I returned to my seat with my mind filled with memories of collecting Stan Lee’s Marvel comics as a kid. I still have them.

I wanted to share the news with my kids but I did want to spoil the fun.

Near the end of the movie, Stan Lee appeared for one of his patented cameos. He implored the hero to not give up on the girl he loves.

Those are the kind of positive messages Stan Lee handed out to readers. While I often employ the Batman motif, it was Stan Lee who taught me how to be one of the good guys. I am not surprised to find so many people learned the same lessons from Stan.

Here’s a tribute by director Kevin Smith. He sums it up perfectly. Excelsior!

This is how I’ll always see you, @therealstanlee: as our benevolent leader and king, smiling down from your eternal throne on the generations of imaginations you fed and inspired. You were the first creator whose voice I knew before I’d ever actually heard it. You dreamed up some of my favorite modern myths and created characters that instilled in me a moral barometer, teaching me right from wrong and showing me it’s always better to be a hero instead of a villain. Your characters represented us: yes, they had extraordinary, unbelievable abilities, but they were also reflections of a world we knew, where a Spider-Man is really just a boy who wants to help. You showed me how to interact with the audience whenever you stepped onto Stan’s Soapbox to reach out to the readers. You showed me how to advocate for my field beyond the actual art itself whenever you tub thumped for comic books outside of the medium. It was never enough for you to simply make a comic because you were a true salesman at heart. So you not only sold comics, you sold me *on* comics – so much so that I built a life and career around your dreams and ideals. When you did Mallrats with us, you not only made a lifelong fan’s dream come true, you also lent me comic book credibility that I still get to spend today. And whether it was for @comicbookmenamc or @yogahosers, whenever I asked to borrow your heat again, you were always there for me with a smile. Your love story with Joanie and your long, happy marriage always shined as an example of what I wanted for my personal life. I long admired (and emulated) your kindness and patience and sense of humor when dealing with your public. Outside of my parents, you were the one adult who gave me the most useful life skills I still use today. Thank you, Stan, for making me not only the boy I was but also the man I am today. You had great power and you always used it responsibly, fostering billions of dreamers who all know your name – a name written in the stars for all time. You were not just the literary titan of comic books, you were our modern day Mark Twain. I will miss you all my days, my friend and hero. Excelsior forevermore.

Published by Tom Lauder

Covering South Florida Politics Since 2010...As Seen On: POLITICO, The Huffington Post, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, WPLG LOCAL 10 (ABC MIAMI), The New Times

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